Joe Coulombe

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Joe Coulombe
Joseph Hardin Coulombe

(1930-06-03) June 3, 1930 (age 89)
San Diego, California, United States
Known forFounder of Trader Joe's
Spouse(s)Alice Steere Coulombe

Joseph Hardin Coulombe (born June 3, 1930)[1] is an American entrepreneur. He is a graduate of Stanford Business School and is a member of Alpha Kappa Lambda. He founded the grocery store chain Trader Joe's in 1967.[2]

Early life[edit]

Joseph Hardin Coulombe was born on June 3, 1930 in San Diego, California. He graduated from Stanford University in 1952 with a degree in Economics, and earned an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1954.


He started his career at Rexall. In 1958, he was asked to test the launch of Pronto Markets, a store brand to compete against 7-Eleven. After running six Pronto Markets in the Los Angeles area, Rexall asked Coulombe to close them down. Coulombe decided to buy them out instead.[3]

After a decade of refining his strategy in a competitive environment, Coulombe renamed his venture from Pronto Markets to Trader Joe's in Pasadena in 1967. He led the chain to success and sold it to German billionaire Theo Albrecht in 1979. Coulombe continued with Trader Joe's as chief executive until retiring in 1988.[2]

He has served on the Boards of Directors of Cost Plus and True Religion Apparel.[4]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Alice Steere Coulombe, who also graduated from Stanford University, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education in 1953 and 1954, respectively. Alice is a philanthropist.[5] She served on the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Opera.[5] Alice's parents taught at the University of Michigan and father William was a director of the New York Botanical Garden, and they were devout Christians.[6]


  1. ^ California Births, 1905 - 1995, Joseph Hardin Coulombe
  2. ^ a b He Brought Trader Joe's to Main Street February 2006
  3. ^ Kowitt, Beth (August 23, 2010). "Inside the secret world of Trader Joe's". Fortune Magazine. Cable News Network. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  4. ^ Kowitt, Beth (August 23, 2010). "Meet the original Joe". Fortune Magazine. Cable News Network. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Diane Haithman, Holding onto a high note, The Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2006
  6. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths STEERE, DOROTHY OSBORNE". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2018.

External links[edit]